Tag:sizanani outreach

nkandla-hivisrealI went out with one of the teams on home visits for the first time yesterday (Monday). All the work I've done before for Sizanani Outreach has been strictly for AIDS patients. These home visits are different in that we follow up on people who were either referred by others in the community (usually children whose parents or guardians have died), or on those either too sick or too far away to visit the clinics.

At each of the homes we visited I was shocked to see just how many toddlers there were running around, all with dirty and/or improper clothing, and almost always malnourished. A lady who is HIV positivie with seven children was feeding her 9 month old porridge with a huge spoon. This baby was about the size of a 6 month old. We tried teaching her about the nutrition that the baby needs, but she didn't really listen. I thought that the area of Nkandla that I am in living in was poor...I had no idea how bad it could really get until Monday. Some of the homes we visited were only four wheel drive accessible and took over an hour to get to (by car) from town. Most of these people have hardly any food, no livestock, no gardens, and no water close by. I have no idea how they survive. For homes such as these, the Sizanani Outreach program gives food parcel packages, but of course it's only enough to sustain them for a short time. Like I mentioned before, almost all of these people rely on the government for Disability Grants to pay for food.

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iStock_000001821815XSmallI'm at the orphanage right now.  It's the only place with wireless internet (the Sizanani Outreach offices are here too) and I'm literally surrounded by TEN kids haha. They're loving this laptop I am using... kinda making it hard to type. I put on Disney songs so they can enjoy. They are seriously so cute. I love them all and I want to take them allllll home with me.

I'm sitting next to a little 13 year old boy who is reading this email as I type it. haha. He wants me to tell you all that he says hello. All of the other kids say hello as well. Man I cannot describe to you how awesome they are, and so beautiful. One of my favorites is a little six year old who has AIDS and so is the size of a 4 year old. He is extremely smart and always goofing around. To be honest, all the kids are my favorite.

They all have such good little hearts and despite their circumstance, they are all fairly well behaved and happy. It's amazing what people can do with so little. Makes me really realize how incredibly spoiled I am.

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nkandla-sisterellenThe last couple of days have been really cool! Yesterday I was able to go to one of the clinics with Sister Ellen and one of her assistants who is a health care worker. The clinic was packed with people seeking medical aid. The purpose for our visit was to meet with clients that are currently on antiretroviral therapy (ART). Our job was to check their adherence to the regimen and to follow up on their blood work and modify anything if needed. In South Africa, the CD4 count must be below 200/mm3 in order for the clients to qualify for ART. In other words, these people have to be VERY sick before they can get the medication they need.

While a third of the people here test positive for HIV, the number one killer is Tuberculosis. Luckily the Sizanani Outreach (who I'm working for) also does TB testing. The types of patients we saw yesterday ranged from a lady with AIDS that came in to apply for a Disability Grant (because over 90% of the people here are unemployed, the government has to subsidize most of their living), to a 13 year old boy with AIDS needing a refill on medication (he came alone to the clinic).

Sister Ellen is an incredibly hard worker. She was a doctor in Germany and has been living here for almost 30 years. I can't imagine the things she has seen and has had to do.

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